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Russian tourist interest in travel to Thailand surges 20% amid ‘open skies for friendlies’ announcement

Russian tourist interest in travel to Thailand surges 20% amid ‘open skies for friendlies’ announcement

PHUKET: Moscow’s announcement of Russia lifting COVID-19 restrictions on flights to 52 countries from yesterday (Apr 9) spurred immediate growth in search inquiries for tickets from Russia to foreign states with searches for Thailand jumping by 20%. But actual flights are yet to resume.

By Anton Makhrov

Sunday 10 April 2022, 04:24PM

Russia’s S7 Airlines in Krabi on February 24, the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Photo: PR Krabi via TAT Newsroom

Russia’s S7 Airlines in Krabi on February 24, the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Photo: PR Krabi via TAT Newsroom

“Starting from Apr 9, we are lifting restrictions set for combating coronavirus pandemic, which applied to our regular and charter flights between Russia and a number of other countries," Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Monday (Apr 4), provoking an immediate response from potential tourists who started searching for available flights to different destinations including Thailand, one of most-preferred destination for Russians before the most recent crisis.

According to OneTwoTrip – a popular vacation planning service in Russia – ticket inquiries jumped on the day of the announcement. In some cases the spike in interest was as high as 350%, said Elena Shelehova, head of OneTwoTrip press service.

“As per search inquiries made by the clients of the service on Apr 4 amid the news of canceling COVID restrictions on flights to specific countries, growth in interest is witnessed for basically all the destinations – from 5% to 350% compared to average daily numbers for the week from Mar 29 to Apr 3”, Russian state news agency TASS quoted Shelehova as saying.

Searches for tickets to Thailand on Apr 4 grew by 20%, for Vietnam – by 32%, for Philippines – by 55%, for Maldives – by 22%, for Turkey – by 18%.

Other “exotic” destinations showed even bigger numbers. Interest towards Fiji, Zimbabwe, Jamaica and Madagascar jumped by 220-290%. 

As reported by TASS, the restrictions were lifted for 52 “friendly” countries which did not join Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Thailand is listed among states deemed as “Russian-friendly”.

Phuket officials welcomed the decision by sharing a WorkpointTODAY’s story promoting how Thailand has maintained its “friendly” status with Russia and highlighting Phuket may soon see Russian tourists return to the island.

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“Russia still does not open air routes for countries listed in the hostile nation that jointly announced sanctions against Russia,” the report said.

Yet actual flights are still on hold as Russian airlines, which mostly served routes between Russia and Thailand, face heavy pressure from Western sanctions, including cancellation of lease agreements which may result in aircraft seizure upon landing in a foreign country.

The airlines also are unable to purchase spare parts or receive maintenance services.

Limited connecting flights are conducted by foreign operators, but those are costly due to re-routing and high oil prices. Direct flights by THAI Airways International are currently not available.

Thailand has officially maintained neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, inline with eth stance by most ASEAN countries. Yet the Kingdom supported the United Nations resolution passed on Mar 2 calling for Russian forces to withdraw from Ukraine and deploring Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine”.

On Apr 6, Thailand abstained in the voting to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council while 93 members voted in favour and the resolution was passed, just like the previous one.

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gordo | 12 April 2022 - 07:32:32

Let's face it, If I were a Russian citizen, and I had the resources, I'd be looking to get out of there too. Unfortunately, the sanctions brought on by this horrific invasion will be felt much more severely by the captive Russian public than than they will be felt by the Russian leadership who are responsible for these atrocities.

gordo | 12 April 2022 - 07:22:41

The Thai government will never condemn another member of the illegitimate authoritarin government club, it's a matter of "professional courtesy". FWIW, The Russian people have absolutely no say in what their government and its army do, and most would not support this murderous assault if they had access to a free press and the truth about the conduct of Putin and the Russian armed fo...

Madeinswiss | 12 April 2022 - 01:31:44

The Thai government and the T.A.T have nothing to do with human rights and the atrocities and murders committed by the Russian army in Ukraine because they only think of the money spent by their favorite Russian tourists.

Pooliekev | 11 April 2022 - 18:56:29

Sounds good to me. Imagine Phuket free from all the whining, grumpy westerners. Heaven!

christysweet | 11 April 2022 - 11:35:52

EU, GB AUS and USA Expats beware. China is aligning with Russia and when things go south we could well find ourselves in a very uncomfortable position. Things are going to get really ugly all thanks to Putin's bruised ego. What a PoS. 

christysweet | 11 April 2022 - 10:57:30

Russia's garbage 'Sputnik' vaccine and their almost non existent mask wearing is going to bring  a huge problem to Phuket.   

JohnC | 11 April 2022 - 09:16:56

Be careful what you wish for. Thailand could become another country denounced by the EU and the rest of the democratic world. Future tourism to the LOS all from fascist states because nobody else wants anything to do with them too.

Thaibart | 10 April 2022 - 20:03:20

I would not wish to be associated with a country which commits atrocities against innocent civilians and children in Ukraine. Be careful what you wish for, Thailand May alienate itself from all of Europe and USA. 


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